Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Bashley

   Tuesday 23/12/2008   FA Trophy
Alan Reidy

FA Trophy First Round Replay

Before we get started let’s put something into perspective – Bashley aren’t as bad as their lowly league position suggests. Yes, they are struggling at the wrong end, and yes they are hardly the most overwhelming team in terms of their midfield, but they have enough about them to be much higher up the league table, and in Dave Allen they have uncovered a gem of a forward that, as it turned out, was perhaps wasted ploughing a lone furrow up front.

Jeremy Tarr might have thought that by grabbing a late equaliser in the first FA Trophy meeting between the sides he had done enough to merit a starting berth, but manager Steve Riley was clearly unmoved and chose to play Allen as the only attacking outlet, with Justin Keeler deployed wide on the left and James Rowe on the right. This 4-5-1 system is common in the current football age – it can easily turn into a 4-3-3 style formation when attacking, but while Rowe was buzzing on the right Keeler found that his opportunities pushing forward were more limited as Tiverton overcame a sluggish start to gain the upper hand through most of the first half.

Inside the first minute of the game the Yellows pressed and Mark Saunders struck a shot wide of the mark after Phil Walsh had done well to get on the end of Bobby Hopkinson’s deep cross, but Bashley settled into the flow of the game and Keeler was unlucky to see his effort skim wide of Steve Book’s post when the shaggy Chris Knowles had battled to free the ball following a hoisted free kick into the danger area from Paul Gazzard. A pattern then began to emerge as the away side saw most of the ball only to fail to find a killer pass or moment of magic that would break down the yellow wall.

The game was stuttering along with little in the way of openings at either end, but after twenty minutes Tivvy almost got a lucky break. The ball fell nicely for the advanced Alex Faux and the wingback drilled in an early shot that was heading well away from goal, but in the crowded penalty area Saunders poked out a foot to divert the course of the ball, only for Matt Parnell to be positioned perfectly just inside the goalpost to hack clear.

Just as three days earlier Tiverton were happy to allow their opposition possession in deep areas, but Bashley were unable to find any penetration, and when another hopeful ball towards the edge of the Yellows’ was cut out the home side were afforded the time to weigh up the options and mount a counter attack. Nathan Rudge paced forwards towards the half way line unchallenged (the drawback of the 4-5-1 is that the opponents are given free reign in this area) and slipped a careful pass that pierced the midfield and defence of the visitors in one stroke. Saunders, so dominant in every aspect to this point latched onto the pass and under pressure from Parnell and the advancing goalkeeper David Elm scuffed a shot towards goal. Time stood still, the ball went, held up, went again, and by the time it was three yards from goal Phil Walsh had sprinted to follow. Pete Castle retreated in his wake, too late, and Saunders’ attempt was all but over the line when Walsh added a final touch to make sure, and to put Town a goal to the good.

We had been here before, but whereas previously Bashley had needed a half time rollicking to raise their game this time they did so without hesitation. The were soon pressuring the Tiverton defence and just two minutes after falling behind the determination of Allen earned the Hampshire team the chance to level things up. Matt Villis messed up what should have been a routine pass home to Book, chronically under-hit, and Allen got in behind to make a beeline for goal. Villis wiped the egg from his brow and chased, too forcibly according to the referee and the vast majority of the 436 in attendance – and arm across Allen’s chest, a tug of the shirt, a Bashley penalty. Rowe was the chosen one, but must have learned his penalty taking skills from the Tivvy school of “How to Fail from Twelve Yards? as he passed a poor spot kick straight down the middle that Book easily pushed away.

Having survived the scare Tiverton needed to hold onto possession for a while, and Hopkinson decided to do this on his own. From midfield he went, shaking off challenges as he wriggled and writhed towards the final third, and eventually the laws of the game fell butter side up as Gazzard hacked him down and spelt his name to the referee. Hopkinson stood over the free kick himself, along with Alex Faux, while the rest of the Tiverton team formed a dummy wall in front of the white and green standard defensive wall that the Bash contingent had erected. Faux created a better angle with a small flick, Bobby pelted in a low shot, and Elm was still stretching as the shot cannoned off the inside of the post. There was just time for the goalkeeper to regain his bearings as Tom Gardner quickly chipped the ball back into the area onto Walsh’s head, and the final effort was tipped over the top.

Despite having enjoyed the better of the first half Tivvy were still relatively cautious and it was Bashley that were the more dangerous on what few breaks they had. Two minutes before the interval one such break finally paid dividends as Alex Faux arrived late enough into a challenge that he missed both ball and player. Rowe was away on the right, took his time to allow Keeler to cut in from the far side and weighted a pass perfectly that Keeler simply couldn’t fail to meet. Meet it he did, with aplomb, and Book was picking the ball out of the net at his left post with the teams once again level pegging. Seconds before the break Allen raced away again as Bashley worked a swift move through the middle, but Mike Booth was on his heels and timed a sliding challenge to perfection that meant the sides went in at one apiece.

The second period was just a couple of minutes old when Hopkinson struck the upright for the second time in the game, this time the outside. A shot throw to Adam Faux was returned and Hopkinson aimed towards the by-line only for his cross/shot to clatter the woodwork, but if truth be told it was an easy take for Elm had the frame not intervened. Walsh nodded a soft header wide at the near post as Gardner took over the throw-in duties, and Wyatt raced away on the left but could only aim his shot straight at Elm as Tivvy began the second half with their tails up.

Perhaps the turning point of the game was Gardner’s removal from the action on fifty-seven minutes, not that he had done anything wrong. The defender was suffering slightly with a sore shoulder so his place in the centre of defence was taken by right-back Adam Faux and Paul Jarvis entered the game on the flank. No sooner was Jarvis on the field that Bashley had a great chance – Allen was freed on the left and played a delightful early ball across the edge of the area for Rowe. The Bashley right winger shot, Book saved the day and quickly dispatched the ball towards the ever-willing Wyatt. Off went Paul, head down towards goal only to be bundled over five yards outside the Bashley penalty area, thus giving Tiverton a free kick in a dangerous position. Hopkinson weighed up the options, Tiverton didn’t bother with the dummy wall, and Jarvis, with almost his first touch of the game eventually struck the set piece. Beneath the jumping Bashley wall it went, a slight deflection that was enough to wrong-foot Elm, and into the net. The Yellows lead again, and this time they meant to keep it.

Marc Fairbrother replaced the quiet Matt Finlay as the visitors reshuffled their system but they had neither the ideas nor the knowhow to prise open a Tiverton defence that was becoming increasing solid and increasingly packed with bodies. If there was to be another goal it would come from a mistake due to incessant pressure from the away side, or it would come from a sprightly breakaway from the Yellows, a tactic that served them so well at Corby the previous weekend. The latter concept nearly came to fruition as Hopkinson sent Wyatt bombing down the left after Chris Ferrett had wasted a Bash free kick deep in the Tivvy half. Wyatt had got the better of his marker and reached the edge of the area before shooting directly at Elm; Walsh, meanwhile, had made up ground and was unmarked and willing on the penalty spot. That should have been curtains.

Moments later another Hopkinson free kick threatened but Elm scampered to palm the ball around the post, and the final fifteen minutes of the game was all about organised defending from Tiverton thwarting constant probing from Bashley. Mike Booth was rightly cautioned for a chop on Rowe, a booking that will keep him out of the Kettering game, but on the night his concern was more for the immediate cause, and Booth, along with the rest of the team played his part as Tiverton edged through to the next round. Tom Knighton and Arran Pugh were both introduced late on, neither had any impact on a game that ended with Tiverton doing that frustrating thing of hogging the ball in the corner. Needs must!

Happy Christmas to all that have taken the time to read my reports.


Tiverton Town: Steve Book, Adam Faux, Alex Faux, Matt Villis, Nathan Rudge, Tom Gardner (Paul Jarvis 57), Mike Booth, Bobby Hopkinson, Phil Walsh, Mark Saunders (Arran Pugh 90), Paul Wyatt (Tom Knighton 89)
Goals: Walsh 32, Jarvis 63
Booked: Villis 34, Saunders 72, Booth 79
Sent off: None

Bashley: David Elm; Paul Gazzard (Jeremy Tarr 77), Chris Ferrett, Pete Castle, Matt Parnell, Chris Knowles, Matt Finlay (Marc Fairbrother 68), James Rowe, Dave Allen, Justin Keeler, Charlie Knight
Goals: Keeler 43
Booked: Gazzard 38, Castle 62
Sent off: None

Attendance: 436

This report ©2008 Alan Reidy






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